With all the energy of the Ramones, The Hypstrz seem to “Englishify” the original Ramones sound enough to re-cast all their tracks in a favorable veneer. With tracks crashing into each other all willy-nilly like, the live songs here have a studio sensibility to them that belies their freshness and spontaneity. Crafted in such a way that ensures listeners will not be tired, the average Hypstrz track hovers right at about two minutes; when the band moves into a near-perfect sound (such as in the blues-looking “I’ll Go Crazy”), the fact that these tracks are so short will throw listeners into a state of depression.
When the band slows down their sound, especially during tracks like “I Don’t”, one can hear each constituent part of the band. The benefit from hearing this is that it shows each member of The Hypstrz as contributing their all; the vitriolic vocals are not the only thing on “Live at the Longhorn” that should knock listeners on their ass. Hell, one can even say that The Hypstrz are more immediately influential on the state of punk than the Ramones are. Listen to a track like “Talk Talk” and hear the Matt Freeman-like bass lines strewn throughout the arrangements; wow at the multiple-part vocal harmonies that The Misfits would perfect a few short years later. “Live At The Longhorn” is a twenty-five year old album, and yet there is a level of directness that The Hypstrz has with their audience, both in reality and those who listen to the concert now.
This lack of bullshit, of overbearing distortion and egos is what makes “Live at the Longhorn” so damn compelling. Each of the tracks here is eminently radio-friendly, but is not of the same style of what is being pandered to radio nowadays. There is a solid foundation of rock which The Hypstrz place themselves on; there are chunks of psychedelic working next to surf music, and even further linked back to the blues of a more-forgotten day. Why exactly this band has been relegated to the footnotes of history is beyond me, but The Hypstrz were easily the equivalent of a Ramones or Clash at the height of their careers. Perhaps it was because so many stars were shining with so bright of a light in 1980; anyways, be sure to pick this album up as it is some of the most directly influential music of this era.
Top Tracks: Shake, Talk Talk
The Hypstrz – Live At The Longhorn / 2005 Bomp! / 37 Tracks / http://www.bomp.com / Reviewed 23 November 2005